Labor Day Festivals Guide
As Labor Day weekend approaches, MT has compiled a definitive list for a memorable last hurrah.
Published: August 28, 2013
Hamtramck Labor Day Festival
8.31; North Stage
The Ill Itches (4:30 p.m.)
Stooges riffs and MC5 evangelical vocals are given a deft contemporary spit n’ polish before being re-unleashed by a set of rowdy youths with dirty mouths.
The Octopus (8:30 p.m.)
The Octopus seems to delight in disappearing for a while, then re-emerging triumphantly. It’s a smart ploy — every show is a reunion. Plus, they’ve got killer stoner rock ’n’ roll tunes and an awesome front-woman.
8.31; South Stage
Tunde Olaniran (7 p.m.)
Flint’s Olaniran describes himself as a cultural warrior with a four-octave range and a penchant for dirty synths. He balances precariously at the dead center of crossroads separating R&B, pop, dance and rap; every now and again he falls off, but never gets hurt.
Dennis Coffey (8 p.m.)
Dennis Coffey was one of the Funk Brothers (meaning, for those of you of tender years, that he was a member of the Motown Records house band). Can you imagine the incredible people he has performed with? And now you get to see him in the street in Hamtramck. Lucky bastards.
9.1; North Stage
Danny Kroha (3:30 p.m.)
Danny Kroha seems to be dividing his time between his solo material and his Danny & the Darleans project. Whichever you get, Kroha is always captivating, spacey and genuinely enthralling. His slight frame moves like a damn cobra. Quitcha hypnotizin’, Kroha!
Joe Mazzola (4:30 p.m.)
With the Sugarcoats or, back in the day, the Detroit Cobras, Mazzola has proven himself a great player and smart songwriter. He’s like an angrier Marshall Crenshaw, or a happier Bob Mould.
Golden Torso (7:30 p.m.)
Golden Torso has a kind of sound that hammers the thesaurus out of your hands before hammering you right in the face; amped-up, chugging hardcore-punk revivalist jams, nuanced with some grimy, alt-rock riffs.
9.1; South Stage
The Codgers (3 p.m.)
It’s Irish folk from a Detroit band that has been around since 2006. Don’t expect the punk stomp of Flogging Molly — these guys believe that playing the songs trad is energetic enough. And they’re right.
Mike Hurtt & the Haunted Heart (5 p.m.)
Former MT scribe Hurtt should really have been playing music in the ’50s; that’s where his haunted heart seemingly belongs. The good news is we get to see the rockabilly rascal and his band right now.
Polish Muslims (7 p.m.)
There shouldn’t be a human alive in Detroit who can say they haven’t seen the Polish Muslims. Who wouldn’t want to hear Beach Boys songs rewritten and re-jigged into a polka style? It’s quite literally the life and soul of the party.
9.2; North Stage
Bill Bondsmen (7:30 p.m.)
Grrrr; these guys are pissed — and they’re going to tell you what’s irking them by way of hardcore punk ditties. Phlegm will fly and they won’t be sorry.
Infatuations (8:30 p.m.)
Funky soul meets rock ’n’ roll, courtesy of the ultimate party band. These guys remember when soul was soulful and add a touch of cheesy disco just for the fun of it.
9.2; South Stage
Pink Lightning (5 p.m.)
You’re going to dance with Pink Lightning — and all five of them will likely step on your toes. They’ll take your hand and dip you, straightening their tuxedo bowties; hair tussled and chins still dripping of champagne from their last dance partner’s splash in the face. Plus, they’ll bring their funky bass, disco-punk drums, wailing guitars, wheezing organs and yowling vocals; all will get down.
George Morris (6 p.m.)
The on again/off again Satin Peaches aren’t going to be keeping lead singer Morris busy in the long term, so he’s gone off and recorded a solo album. And it’s really fucking good.
Outrageous Cherry (7 p.m.)
Matt Smith has been playing with his Outrageous Cherry for a couple of decades now. In that time, he has evolved into one of the best pop-rock songwriters in town. He knows how to perfectly balance the pudding with the arsenic, writing anthems that are both bitter and sweet.
Jeecy & the Jungle (8 p.m.)
These guys call themselves “nu-wave soul,” which pretty much hits the nail on the head. Think Elvis Costello fronting Love — and you’re partway there.
Melvin Davis (8:45 p.m.)
Melvin Davis is a true Detroit soul “legend,” a word that is overused, but absolutely applicable here. The man has done everything and played everywhere, and he still looks and sounds great.
Arts Beats & Eats
8.31; Soaring Eagle Stage
Audra Kubat (12:45 p.m.)
Audra Kubat might be a singer-songwriter, but she’s a completely different beast to any similar female artist in the city; mainly because she seems to feel everything so much more. Kubat’s lyrics suggest she’s deeply affected by everything that’s ever gone wrong anywhere — resulting in a vulnerability that’s entrancing.
American Mars (6:45 p.m.)
Dave Feeny has played with Blanche and Goober & the Peas among others, and he heads up Tempermill Studios in Ferndale. Still, one can’t help but think that he’s most at home when playing with American Mars, this most rootsy of Americana bands.
Candy Band (8:15 p.m.)
It’s kinda weird that the Candy Band is going on stage so late considering the fact that it’s a band aimed at young children. Maybe the kids will be allowed to stay up past 9 p.m. on Labor Day weekend and listen to punky versions of songs like “Spongebob Squarepants.”
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